Belle and Sebastian release new single "The Same Star", taken from EP trilogy "How To Solve Our Human Problems"
Part 1 – out now, Part 2 – January 19, Part 3 – February 16 + European tour dates
Scottish band Belle and Sebastian kick off 2018 with shimmering new single "The Same Star". Taken from Part 2 of the band’s new trilogy of EPs, "How To Solve Our Human Problems", the Sarah Martin penned, Leo Abrahams produced song brings together breezy guitars, feel-good rhythm and Martin’s bittersweet vocals for another showcase of the infectious, inquisitive and timeless pop on the band’s latest offering.
“My capacity to be delighted by pop music has not waned,” Stuart Murdoch – lead singer, main songwriter, player of piano and guitar – says. His love of pop is conveyed by the fact that Belle and Sebastian’s new music has the timeless blend of joy and melancholy that has always characterised them. What has changed is how the group want their music to be released. Over the coming months, Belle and Sebastian will gift the world a double album’s worth of music – richly melodic, deliciously literate, as gentle as a summer stream but as insistent as a river – but they won’t do it by releasing an album. Instead, there will be three EPs, under the umbrella title "How To Solve Our Human Problems".
The trilogy's first part is already out, the second EP's release date is January 19, and the last one will be available on 16 February with a compilation CD and a limited edition vinyl box.
Following the singles "We Were Beautiful", "I’ll Be Your Pilot" and "The Same Star" "How To Solve Our Human Problems" has already been greeted with accolades from publications including Pitchfork, MOJO, ELLE, GQ, AV Club and NPR among others.
“Finds the Glaswegian indie pop greats speaking to our times” - Pitchfork
"These sparky songs are the freshest the band has sounded in years. What a revelation" – MOJO
“A fresh set of jangly dance-pop tunes” – People Magazine
The lead tracks for the EPs work in their different ways. "We Were Beautiful" is built around a drumbeat Murdoch imagined, with semi spoken-word verses over melancholic synths and pedal steel, and a Peter Hookesque bassline. And, as Murdoch self-effacingly puts it, “a vague chorus”. It’s not a vague chorus: it’s a big, bold chorus.
"I’ll Be Your Pilot" is one for the old guard, the essence of the groups dedicated attention to melody (“If there was a line where you could describe our work as challenging, this is on the non-challenging side,” says Murdoch, never a man to knowingly oversell his work), and taking as its subject Murdoch’s young son: “Having your first kid is a huge event, so I wrapped a lot of things I felt about Denny into the song. Being a dad made me feel a little like the pilot in The Little Prince, hence all the references to the Sahara!”
The third “single”, "Poor Boy", is the most unusual: as close as Belle and Sebastian will ever come to slinky, 80s R&B. “At the last minute we had the chance to work with Inflo [who produced Michael Kiwanuka’s acclaimed Love & Hate],” Murdoch says. “I wasn’t sure getting into bed with someone new at that point in the project would be helpful, but he came up to Glasgow, and we had a lot of fun together”. The result is, flatly, wonderful: recognisably Belle and Sebastian, but pushed into new shapes, configured in a new way. Inflo also worked "Show Me the Sun", which isn’t quite so much of a sidestep, but still propels Belle and Sebastian gently towards the dancefloor.
Murdoch, as ever, is not the only writer. Sarah Martin (violin/vocals) brought in the delicious "The Same Star", which marries Belle and Sebastian’s melodiousness to a pounding Motown backbeat, and was produced by Leo Abrahams (Ghostpoet, Wild Beasts, Regina Spektor). “It fell together quite quickly,” says Martin, “thanks in large part to Bob’s [Bobby Kildea, guitarist] enthusiasm and Stuart's willingness to dismember an old song and repurpose the break, so that it wasn't just the same three chords over and over and over.”
The multi-part "Cornflakes", which traverses 60’s psychedelia and ecstatic, funk-infused doo-wop, came from Stevie Jackson (guitar/vocals). He cites, cryptically, a range of inspirations for the song: “Getting a whiff of Nancy Whiskey O whilst chatting to the queen of Australia and lifting chords from Frank Sinatra. Sumner, Valli and Collins get the karaoke treatment in quick session, without winning any prizes. Synthetic train music recorded at the Green Door Glasgow who are very talented and gracious people.”
The band concluded 2017 in festive fashion, with radio sessions for Lauren Laverne on 6 Music (listen HERE), Jo Whiley on Radio 2 (listen from 1:11:50 HERE), and BBC Radio Scotland’s The Quay Sessions, where they performed a special cover of The Waitresses’ "Christmas Wrapping". Watch the performance HERE.
Belle and Sebastian will embark on UK and European tour dates through February and March, including a double header at London’s Troxy on the 16th and 17th of March. All upcoming dates can be found below.
Recalling their 1997 release of three consecutive EPs, "How To Solve Our Human Problems", has the classic blend of joy and melancholy and idiosyncratic spirit that has always characterised Belle and Sebastian. A double album’s worth of music – richly melodic, deliciously literate, as gentle as a summer stream but as insistent as a river – "How To Solve Our Human Problems" is both an era of its own, and part of a long, rich history.
"How To Solve Our Human Problems" Part 1 - Tracklisting:
1. Sweet Dew Lee
2. We Were Beautiful
3. Fickle Season
4. The Girl Doesn’t Get It
5. Everything Is Now
Out now, available here - http://smarturl.it/HTSOHP_Pt1
"How To Solve Our Human Problems" Part 2 - Tracklisting:
1. Show Me The Sun
2. The Same Star
3. I’ll Be Your Pilot
5. A Plague On Other Boys
Released January 19, pre-order - http://smarturl.it/HTSOHP_Pt2
"How To Solve Our Human Problems" Part 3 - Tracklisting:
1. Poor Boy
2. Everything Is Now (Part Two)
3. Too Many Tears
4. There Is An Everlasting Song
5. Best Friend
Released February 16, pre-order - http://smarturl.it/HTSOHP_Pt3
UK and European Tour Dates:
Mon - 05-Feb - Belgium, Antwerp, De Roma
Tue - 06-Feb - France, Strasbourg, La Laiterie
Wed - 07-Feb - France, Paris, Salle Pleyel
Fri - 09-Feb - France, Nantes, Stereolox
Sun - 11-Feb - Luxembourg, Rockhal
Mon - 12-Feb - Switzerland, Zurich, X tra limmathaus
Tue - 13-Feb - Italy, Milan, Fabrique
Wed - 14-Feb - Italy, Bologna, Estragon
Fri - 16-Feb - Germany, Munich, Muffathalle
Sat - 17-Feb - Germany, Berlin, Admiralspalast
Sun - 18-Feb - Germany, Frankfurt, Batschkapp
Mon - 19-Feb - Netherlands, Amsterdam, Carre
Wed - 21-Feb - Denmark, Copenhagen, DK Studio 1
Thu - 22-Feb - Sweden, Stockholm, Munchen Brewery
Fri - 23-Feb - Norway, Oslo, Sentrum Scene
Sat - 24-Feb - Sweden, Gothenburg, Studios
Tue - 06-Mar - UK, Cornwall Truro Hall
Thu - 08-Mar - Wales, Cardiff, Millenium Centre
Fri - 09-Mar - Wales, Aberystwyth, Arts Centre
Sat - 10-Mar - UK, Nottingham Rock City
Mon - 12-Mar - UK, Manchester Bridgewater Hall
Tue - 13-Mar - UK, Cambridge Corn Exchange
Thu - 15-Mar - UK, Brighton Dome
Fri - 16-Mar - UK, London Troxy
Sat - 17-Mar - UK, London Troxy
Mon - 19-Mar - UK, Liverpool Philharmonic
Tue - 20-Mar - UK, York Opera House
Thu - 22-Mar - UK, Gateshead Sage
Fri - 23-Mar - Scotland, Perth, Concert Hall
Sat - 24-Mar - Scotland, Edinburgh, Usher Hall
Mon - 26-Mar - Ireland, Dublin, Vicar St
Tue - 27-Mar - Ireland, Dublin, Vicar St
Wed - 02-May – Australia, Perth, Astor Theatre
Fri - 04-May – Australia, St Kilda, Palais Theatre
Sat - 05-May – Australia, Sydney, Sydney Opera House
Mon - 07-May – Australia, Brisbane Qld, Tivoli
Fri - 25-May – UK, Glasgow, SWG3 Galvanizers Yard